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EARLY YEARS

My life in music...

Inspiration,  blessings and challenges all bring a sense of gratefulness for what's been and what's yet to come.

There were pivotal and supportive people along the way and my appreciation for you runs deep!

 

The attraction and luv for music goes back as far as I can remember.

My Italian mother was a graphic artist and my Irish father was a high school basketball star and then Marine Sergeant and Korean War veteran. Home life was turbulent things were better when the music was playing. As a young boy there was  an interesting array of records playing in the house filling my head with filled a diverse mix of sounds.  Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, movie soundtracks like Paint Your Wagon and Fiddler On The Roof, TV shows like American Bandstand, Hee Haw, Soul Train and Lawrence Welk as well as the weekly church hymns.

As a shy kid my fascination with the guitar filled my head and would soon compete with my luv for basketball.

Around age 7, after witnessing David Cassidy with a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster and perfectly feathered hair performing 'I Can Feel Your Heartbeat', I was determined to get my own guitar.

Over the next few years there was an abundance of music enhanced my interest. Some early favorites came from my first pieces of vinyl that were given endless spins on my little suitcase record player. Elton John's 'Greatest Hits', a 45 of Neil Young's 'Heart of Gold' and a KTEL album called 'Believe in Music'. The KTEL record was packed with a great selection. Songs like 'Brandy' (Looking Glass), 'Go All The Way' (The Raspberries), 'Let It Rain' (Derek and the Dominoes), 'Long Cool Woman' (The Hollies), 'Hold Your Head Up' (Argent), 'Summer Breeze' (Seals and Crofts) and 'Backstabbers' (The O'Jays). I was always fond of moody ballads. 'I Never Cry' by Alice Cooper,  'I Feel Like A Bullet In The Gun Of Robert Ford' by Elton John and 'All By Myself' by Eric Carmen to name a few. Even then it was crystal clear in that the real power of music was in the strength of a great song!

One special day...

I was soon exposed to an earful of serious rock albums from the 70's. While my brothers were enjoying progressive rock and rockin' blues music. I was then gifted a full day of music education as my neighborhood friends sat me down and turned on to Led Zeppelin '2', Pink Floyd 'Wish You Were Here', Montrose (debut), Boston (debut), Journey 'Look Into the Future', Queen 'A Night at the Opera', Black Sabbath 'Masters of Reality', Ted Nugent (debut), Genesis 'Lamb Lies Down On Broadway', Jethro Tull 'Aqualung, Heart 'Little Queen' and Yes 'Fragile'. It was now clear to me just how powerful it was to experience an album from front to back. How important it was to hear the songs in that perfect, intended sequence and how it could take you on real a musical ride. 

And then, a most iconic day...

A neighborhood friend Bob Auen held up the album cover of Kiss Alive' right in my face and from that moment on it was game over!  Seeing that iconic photo was life changing and fueled my desire, launching my dream of being in a band and getting on stage! Even then at age 11, it was crystal clear to me that time was ticking and the race was on to make my dreams come true. After all, I only had a lifetime to make it happen.

The guitar in the house...

My oldest brother Kevin had a nylon string acoustic guitar with strings so high off the neck you could slide a pizza underneath them. It was virtually impossible to play but that didn't stop me from getting it in my hands and pouncing on it! He gave me much guidance and help and got me started by teaching chords and showing me songs.

Soon after, he acquired an imitation Gibson Les Paul Special and even though I was strictly told NOT to touch it, nothing was gonna stop me. Fortunately it wasn't long before my Mother took me guitar shopping to Montgomery Ward's in Oakland, Ca to buy me my very own axe, a 'Global' imitation Les Paul electric guitar for $67. My inspiration soared and I fiercely practiced trying to hone my skills.

 

The 70's were a great time for an aspiring young guitarist...

The music of the era was filled with many great bands and players to listen to. And aside from basketball, music was the only real thing of interest and anyone who was in either game was either an ally or competitor. Growing up in Alameda, Ca was a very special place and there were many aspiring young guitarists in my neighborhood. Honestly it seemed as if every other house on every block in town was home to a guitar hero in the making. There was Jim Stewart with his 'Memphis' dbl cutaway and Craig Brakebush playing his black Fender Stratocaster in the basement of his house demonstrating the solo for Pink Floyd's 'Money' and Zeppelin's 'Stairway To Heaven'. Or Tim Hill jamming on the porch of a friend's house near the infamous 'Jackson Park' (where the pot dealers were) playing UFO's 'Mother Mary' on his Gibson Flying V. This firmly embedded the sound of Michael Schenker into my ears! There was John Cruz (RIP) and Eddie Fontaine and their band 'Rockbound'. I remember John showing me how to play Rush's '2112' on the porch of his house on Liberty St and Eddies mind-blowing performance of Van Halen's 'Eruption' and UFO's 'Rock Bottom' at their gig in the BBQ area of Alameda's majestic 'Lincoln Park'. These were all mesmerizing, impactful and invaluable moments. Fuel for the fire.

My first real drummer...

While on my journey working hard and dreaming of becoming real guitar slinger, I would come to meet my first real music partner in drummer Joey Frye (RIP)!  Joey was such a sweet, outgoing and charismatic guy with massive talent! There were many jam sessions and good times had in he and his friends basements. We lit each others fire and it was without question the very first musical interaction that allowed me to fully experience what chemistry was between two players!  It really helped set the tone for the pathway forward and gave a clear reference point ofr how special a musical partnership needed to be! While we remained friends I can't recall why our paths in music didn't continue for longer. but I know it would have amounted to something very, very special.

An amazing opportunity...

In my younger days I also enjoyed the bonus of working at two amazing record stores, the Record Factory and the Record Gallery These situations provided me endless access to music of every style both new and old, the ultimate music libraries. My dear friends Leo Steccati (RIP) and Gerard 'Fud' Ford (RIP) became my adopted big brothers and they were filled with so much knowledge of music and the business. Their belief in me was priceless!

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